Last Tuesday at 8 pm Chris and I arrived at the hospital rather perky and excited about being induced. As we walked in the main entrance I said to him,
“You know, it's almost too big of an idea to take seriously. We're walking in today and in a few days they're going to let us walk out of here with a baby. A BABY! A whole new person!”
After checking in we were shown to a L&D Suite. Yes, they call them "suites" which I find to be both hilarious and a bit sad as it is probably the most expensive night I'll ever spend away from home and there weren't even any fluffy white towels set out for me. (The towels were rather pathetic actually. And there were only two. And they were small.)
My nurse placed two rounds of Cytotec overnight. The goal was to get me a few centimeters dilated by morning. It was possible that the Cytotec might throw me into full-on labor on my own. (I was really hoping that would happen.)
She makes a note that I am still not dilated at all at 41 weeks and change (WTF!?) and I try to sleep.
The Cytotec hasn't exactly done a great job: only 1 cm dilated. Barely. UGH.
They started my IV and hung a bag of Pitocin. My doctor broke my water. All right – this was it. Things were going to start happening!
6 am to 12 pm
The first few hours were definitely painful. But the contractions were far enough apart that I thought,
“Hey, I can manage this! It's ok! It hurts, but I can do it.”
Then as the Pitocin steadily got dialed up all morning they got far more intense, longer and more frequent. It HURT A LOT, but I thought that surely because I was in so much pain and they felt so powerful that I was really good at this being induced thing. I had been on a steadily increasing drip of Pitocin for SIX WHOLE HOURS at this point and was having to work very hard to get through each contraction. I figured the baby would be here by 3.
At noon my doctor checked on me. I thought I'd be several centimeters dilated.
HA. Oh, ha. HA HA HA HA HA.
She pronounced that I was only 2.5 cm and said she thought we'd be here a while. That she'd likely be born “very late tonight and that there were still several hours ahead of us. Maybe not until midnight.”
CRAP. Midnight? It was only noon!
If this is what it felt like to get to 2.5 cm then OH MY GOD, what will going to 10 cm be like?! I knew right then that I couldn't possibly go for 12 more hours and that I would be asking for an epidural at some point, but I resolved to try and make it as long as I could.
Noon to 3:30pm
Things rapidly increased on a pain/intensity scale.
I kept thinking that I hadn't found the right position to control the pain so I kept trying new things, not actually realizing that labor ITSELF was getting more intense and that I was making good progress because as labor goes on IT GETS HARDER (duh).
They had told me with some authority that it would take a REALLY LONG time (and they even made a face when they said it), so it never occurred to me that I might be making good progress and getting close to 10 cm.
I was preparing myself for a delivery at midnight and a long, slow grind towards the finish line.
Also not helping me realize that I was making any progress was that my contractions were really irregular. I'd have a couple of really, really bad ones that were long with no break in between followed by some smaller, shorter ones several minutes apart.
This really screwed with my head.
I would be all ready to say, “I want my epidural!” but then a set of the lighter (relatively speaking of course) contractions would come on and I'd be like,
“Oh, no way. I can handle this. I can SO do this!”
About 3pm though I lost control of my breathing and was taking deep, shallow breaths - basically hyperventilating. I could feel myself starting to panic a bit. Chris is still talking me through each contraction, but it's not helping at this point. The contractions are coming on really, really fast and there doesn't seem to be a break in between them.
I have to put on an oxygen mask because my shallow, rapid breathing is making the baby a bit unresponsive. I wasn't happy about this but I quickly changed my mind when I figured out that it made me feel ten thousand times better. I looooved my oxygen mask.
By the time 3:30 rolled around I decided I could not take the pain any more and I wanted relief. I asked for the epidural. Now, please.
I soothed myself with the thought that there was an end in sight. Relief was on the way. I could handle the next contractions knowing that there wouldn't be many more of them I would feel. I could do it for another half hour.
3:30 pm - 4:50 pm
The epidural was a fiasco from the start.
Out of all the things that I knew could go badly/wrong that day the epidural was not one I had considered. It was my back up plan all day long. My insurance policy.The one sure thing.
Oh ho, was that was a mistake.
First off, I needed to go through one bag of saline fluid before I could get it and I didn't realize that ALL DAMN DAY I had not even gone through the requisite one bag of fluid. (Seriously, nurses?! WHAT THE HELL?)
They accelerated the drip and I had to wait on it to finish. Meanwhile, the contractions get stronger, I muscle through them thinking there is relief in sight right after I finish this bag of fluid.
That was wrong too.
People, I labored for ELEVEN PITOCIN INDUCED HOURS before I had relief. Even though I asked for the relief at about 3:30, I didn't get it until nearly 5.
They had to do the epidural twice. The first time it only worked on my right half. Initially I was fine with that because hey – HALF THE PAIN. But then the WHOLE THING wore off entirely and I could feel everything again in all its holy unbelievably painful glory.
They call the anesthesiologist back and this takes a while. She has to remove the first one and place an entirely new one - all while I'm having the worst contractions yet. They were completely unmanageable because of the way I was sitting all hunched over – they were HORRIBLE. I was screaming and cussing and basically being a crazy lady in labor.
I remember feeling badly for saying “fuck!” so much in front of the nurses because it's just not a polite thing to say to someone who is trying to help you, but then I was like they've seen it all. So I let it fly.
All the while the anesthesiologist is having a tough time getting the needle placed correctly because I cannot sit still and and there's something wonky about my back and the needle - I don't know, IT TOOK FOREVER.
They made Chris sit in a chair, helpless and watching me scream through contractions while the anesthesiologist muscles a big ass needle in my back for the SECOND time.
The entire time I'm saying, “I feel like I need to push, I HAVE to push.”
Meanwhile, they actually have this conversation while she's jabbing me, as if I can't hear them:
Anesthesiologist: Oh, she says she has to push, should we check her?
Nurse: No, no. There's no way she's fully dilated. She was only 2 cm at noon! We'll check her after the epidural is placed.
Anesthesiologist: Are you sure?
Nurse: Yes, there's no way she's ready.
They get the epidural placed and working correctly about 4:50. I immediately feel five thousand times better.
4:50 - 5:12 pm
They check me after and the nurse says, “Oh my goodness! We're having a baby! RIGHT NOW! You're fully dilated!”
I was in total amazement. I was strangely proud of myself
and also grateful that I had asked for pain relief when I did. Those last few contractions were REALLY REALLY BAD.
It never occurred to me all afternoon that I was simply going through the stages of labor as I'd read about them. Looking back, I am really proud of myself.
My nurse also mentioned that the baby was at +2 station and that it would be really easy for me to push her out. She guessed only a few pushes. She said the baby would be here in just a few minutes.
I was thrilled to hear this. All day I had been thinking that I needed to save up all this energy to push and now here was a lady telling me that I'd barely have to work at all.
She was right. After no more than ten relatively easy minutes she was born with her cord looped around her neck twice at 5:12 pm. 7 pounds, 4 ounces; 19 inches long. She scored an 8 and 9 on her APGAR tests and cried loudly.
It was the sweetest sound I'd ever heard. I looked at Chris and said,
"Oh my God. That's our baby girl. She's finally here."